January 30, 2019

Modern Temperatures

It is not the same thing, and I only intend an analogy in that it reminds me of yesteryear that I speak about it . . . I remember a winter hitch-hiking from TX to CA, via the southern route (that is south of the old route 66 . . . which I may later remember another story about hitch-hiking along because it is something that I occasionally did in my later teens) when the temp was way down and I thought that my ping-pongs were freezing, but then just outside Truth or Confidences, going west, an older man in an old pickup stopped and offered me a ride . . . I was so grateful, and still am grateful. He had his granddaughter with him and told me where they were trying to get to before the weather could completely stop them. I don't remember his destination, almost certainly somewhere in central or western New Mexico . . . I was tired and just accepted the justice of the night. He woke me up about an hour into our shared trip . . . his pickup had a slow radiator leak, but instead of weather freezing the leak, the engine kept the water heated enough that it slowly dribbled onto the highway into little ice bubbles (that is only my imagination, I never actually went back to verify). But the bottom decision was irrefutable, we were stopped in the middle of the NM landscape (sparse, beautiful and barely habitable in may spots, from my viewpoint on the highway (including our unchosen spot to stop in emergency mode). It was so cold (neither of us had a thermometer), but it was so cold that the grandfather worried about his granddaughter, and he started digging a hole in the landscape and asked me to help him dig, so that we could bury her under enough dirt to keep her warm to survive the night. It worked, she lived through the night, as we did. But a couple of hours from daylight a light suddenly showed itself in the middle of the night toward the south. I think I saw it first, but I had no real idea what it was . . . a "farmhouse", I think he said . . . (forget the quibbles about who farms in such regions and for such reasons) I never found out what they truly did for a living. We dug up his daughter and trekked toward the light. It was a house with the most responsive people you could imagine, they immediately took in who we obviously were (we may have also told them, but my Spanish is not always so good) . . . we were served platefuls of breakfast beans and corn tortillas (still one of my favorite ways to break the fast). And so we survived. I am not so sure that some folks in our middle north U.S. will be so fortunate. I am worried about them.

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